22 HERITAGE SUSTAINABILITY: 0.71/1 (2014)
Cambodia’s result of 0.71/1 is reflective of the high level of priority given to the protection, safeguarding and promotion of heritage sustainability by Cambodian authorities. While many public efforts are dedicated to registrations and inscriptions, conservation and management, capacity-building, and raising-awareness; select persisting gaps in community involvement and stimulating support amongst the civil society and private sector call for additional actions to improve this multidimensional framework.
Cambodia scored 0.77/1 for registration and inscriptions, indicating that authorities’ efforts have resulted in many up-to-date national and international registrations and inscriptions of Cambodian sites and elements of tangible and intangible heritage. Cambodia has 3490 heritage sites on their national registry, as well as a national inventory of 146 elements of intangible heritage. Government efforts have successfully resulted in 2 heritage sites receiving recognition of being World Heritage – Angkor (1992) and the Temple of Preah Vihear (2008), as well as 2 elements of intangible heritage being included on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity ¬– the Royal Ballet (2008) and the Khmer Shadow Theatre (2008). However, while a national registry is in place comprising over 33,104 items of cultural property and movable heritage, no database of stolen cultural objects yet exists despite the country’s ratification of the UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (1995) and the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970).
Cambodia scored 0.86/1 for the protection, safeguarding and management of heritage, indicating that there are several well-defined policies and measures, as well as efforts to build capacity, but certain key gaps persist regarding community involvement. Several recent policies and measures have been taken in the last 5 years to assure current registries are in place, structure archaeological excavations, prevent illicit trafficking, and provide updated management plans for registered heritage sites. Though cross-analysis with the Education dimension draws attention to a lack of regular technical and vocational training opportunities in the area of heritage, the results of this indicator highlight the comprehensive coverage of multiple programmes carried out to increase heritage site management staff’s expertise, communities’ knowledge of intangible heritage, and to increase expertise concerning illicit trafficking. However, gaps in the framework can still be identified. To date, no explicit reference to cultural heritage’s role for development is made in national development plans, though the inclusion of heritage in future plans is currently being drafted for proposal. Furthermore, while authorities recognize that local communities are to be included in registry and inventorying processes for tangible and intangible heritage, in the last 2 years, no measures or practices have been adopted to actively involve communities in heritage protection, the fight against illicit trafficking, or to respect customary practices governing access to specific aspects of intangible cultural.
Cambodia scored 0.45/1 for the transmission and mobilization of support, which reflects that while many efforts have been made to raise awareness of heritage’s value, much more has yet to be done to gain the support of the civil society and private sector. In addition to signage at heritage sites and differential pricing, visitor centres at major sites, community centres and national public education programmes are used as mediums to spread the message about heritage’s significance. However, heritage has not been included in school programmes in the last 2 years in order to more specifically target a youth audience. Finally, no specific measures have been implemented to involve civil society and/or the private sector in heritage protection, conservation, or transmission. Encouraging the formation of private foundations to assist in the protection of heritage and explicit agreements with tour operators are two means to be explored further.